By now we should all be aware of St. Michael's schedule for Christmas Eve - 4th Sunday of Advent 4 at 9:00am and Christmas Eve at 5:00pm, with decorating of the church in between. Just in case you weren't, re-read the previous sentence. On Christmas Day we have a simple service at 10:00am. It's a very busy few hours with a lot to do, at a time when many are already moving at a frantic pace to get their homes ready for their own Christmas celebrations.
In the middle of the Christmas Eve service, something wonderful happens. It happens every Christmas Eve, at the same time and in exactly the same way, but this is the only time of year that it occurs. I'm talking about the reading of the Christmas gospel from Luke. It's so well-known, so familiar to us, that it's a wonder we even notice it when it's read. And yet, we do. This year, i invite you to listen to that moment when the Gospel reading begins. There is a special kind of quiet that falls over the congregation; there is a hopefulness and an expectancy to it that we don't hear from any other reading from the Gospel. It's as if the whole congregation is holding their breath.
At least, that's how it always feels to me. I always imagine as i hear those words that it isn't just our congregation that's holding their breath but all of creation. I think of us as reading that Gospel not just to ourselves but to the whole world, in the hopes that the hope and expectation we experience will spill out onto all creation. I like to believe that the whole world - not just us people but literally all of creation - hears and understands what those words mean - "for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." That's what Christmas is - our celebration and proclamation that Jesus - born so long ago in Bethlehem - was then, is now, and always will be the Savior and Lord of all creation, the one for whom we have waited and hoped.
I hope you will be with us this Christmas Eve, "to hear again the message of the angels, and in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass." Come hear the holy silence that precedes the telling of the story of our salvation.
May you have a happy, joyful, and blessed Christmas.